A year and half ago, our church's minister and I seemed worlds apart. We had different philosophies and ideas and were headed in different directions, or at least it seemed.

About 9 months ago we seemed to turn together toward a common direction.

In the past 6 months it has felt like we are now moving on parallel paths.

Wednesday night I felt like he and I were in the exact same place, something I haven't felt with anyone in a while.

The past few months have been a really challenging time for me. I have seen my sinful heart more clearly than ever before. I've seen in me attitudes and behaviors that I either had thought I was done with or I simply did not struggle with. It has felt like God has decided to show me who I really am. I'm reminded of this scripture:

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
I feel as though God has cut open my chest, pried open my heart, uncovering my sin and said "I want you to see what's really in here." What is there was critical thoughts, judgmental attitudes, pride, condescension, quick judgments and easy anger.

It has hurt to see my true self. A lot. I've felt hopeless, powerless to change. It has felt like I've been this way since birth and it was inevitable that this is who I would become. This is who I am, I don't know how to be different. I don't know how to see myself and others differently. More than that, I can't imagine that there is a different way to look at things. I have felt completely alone and isolated. I have analyzed it, looking for a solution, then realized how foolish that was, and the tried to analyze the analysis and then just wanted to run and hide. I have thought that perhaps I was insane, maybe I needed counseling? I have found it hard to talk about as well, partly because the feeling and the awareness have defied explanation and partly due to shame and my pride.

Through this time I've thought about Paul's description of the thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12. I feel as though I finally understand it, I'm convinced that Paul's thorn is his own sinful heart. Maybe that's just because it suits me right now, but that's OK with me. After all, in the preceding chapter he says that he will boast about his weaknesses.

If this is what Paul was dealing with, I can completely understand his begging God to take it away. I have wished that God did not trust me enough to show me my true self. I have longed for the days if blissful ignorance of my own sinful heart, but this Genie will not go back in the bottle. In the end, I know it will be a good thing, but right now it seems unbearable.

So, last night, myself and two other leaders met to talk over some things in the church, things that seemed very important to me a week or two ago. But as we debated & discussed what had happened and what should be done, I suddenly understood that my real issue was with myself. Those things were important and I did care about them, but what I really needed was to fix me and I wasn't even sure how to talk about it.

After I tried one more time to enunciate what I was feeling, our minister articulated just what I have felt. His being overwhelmed by his own sin, struggling with its reality. And he related how he felt like Paul must have in 2 Corinthians 12.

And it was like someone turned on a light in a dark room. A weight lifted from my shoulders, the weight of feeling alone and isolated. The issues were still there, but I was no longer alone. Going home, I had to smile at how God had brought us together like this. I had prayed some time ago that our relationship would grow, but I couldn't see how it was to happen. But here we are, at a cross roads, but the two paths are behind us, not ahead.

I truly don't understand how God works in the world, but He clearly does. He has been active, behind the scenes in our hearts to bring us both to this place. I have much to learn yet in this particular struggle. God's answer to Paul was "My grace is sufficient for you." and that absolutely blows my mind right now. No way in my mind, though I know it to be true, that simple grace is enough to cover all that I see in me. If it were me facing that stuff in someone else, I'd require more than grace (which, of course, is a big part of the problem.) Grace is sufficient? Really? That's going to take me a while, but that's OK I guess.


Hi Doug,

It's no fun at all to be struggling with something and feeling all alone in the struggle. Your story reminds me of Elijah, who thought he was the only faithful person remaining in Israel--but God pointed out there were still 7000 who had not bowed to Baal. The truth is that our struggles are common (1 Cor 10:13). Satan uses isolation to make us feel helpless and hopeless. And he uses our pride to turn our picky little differences in opinion into faith-threatening issues. Humility thwarts his scheme. Thanks for sharing.


Wow, Doug, that's pretty deep, and very cool...

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  • Wow, Doug, that's pretty deep, and very cool......

    P. Allan Frederick
  • Hi Doug, It's no fun at all to be struggling with something and feeling all alone in the struggle. Your story reminds me of Elijah, who thought he was the only faithful person remaining in Israel--but God pointed out t...